Yesterday Munchkin jumped off the deep end of the pool for the very first time and surfaced to loud cheering and clapping from his teachers and myself much to the bewilderment of several parents who stared at me as though maybe we had gone a touch overboard, after all their kids jumped off the edge all the time. It was one of the proudest moments of my life because the journey to that moment had been massive.
The Munchkin has always done everything in his own time, like all kids I guess do but his time has generally been long after the other kids and lately he has started to notice that he is different and it worries him and he has started asking me why things take a long time and my heart just breaks for him because I don’t know what to say other than we just need to keep practising. Diagnosed as having Global Developmental Delays at 3, were weren’t really given much information other than letting me know I would be having long relationships with Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists and the Pediatrician. There doesn’t seem to be much to research and therefore, I am guessing, eventually they just catch up, least that’s what I’m assuming and naturally hoping.
As an Australian, I have always thought it necessary that Aussie kids can swim, I spent my entire childhood underneath the water, I love it and so does Zee and as our last house had a swimming pool Munchkin was initiated very early on. He loved it, at least all the photos we have of him as a baby would suggest that, always laughing and giggling. Our summers in that house were awesome and we were naturally very popular.
Munchkin loved the water and then all of a sudden it changed and he was terrified. I couldn’t even bath him. To this day I have no idea as to what triggered it off. There were no near drowning incidences, he was always supervised by an adult, the older kids were always fantastic with him and never splashed or were too rough in the water, the bath temperature was always checked but there he was at a little over 12 months, frozen solid and screaming at the bath. For months I could only sponge him, and eventually we upgraded to a bucket, ironically he loved water and would always play in puddles or the wheelbarrow if it was full of water. Eventually we got him back into the bath, generally with one of us in there with him and little bit by little bit he was okay, as long as the plug was NEVER pulled out.
A friend of mine had her son enrolled in swimming lessons and there was a spare spot so she asked if we would like to sign up, I thought it was a great idea as both our sons were great friends and we could have a play and a catch up afterwards. He couldn’t wait to play with his friends and was excited about the pool and then … reality hit, He stopped, went stiff and started shivering and then came the screams. We cuddled, we tried sitting on the edge, I put him in, he climbed out, they put him in, he climbed out. Crying constantly and looking at me with such pleading eyes I was just about to call it quits when the manager Eloise whispered something in his ear and put him gently in the water and he stayed there for the rest of the lesson, still crying but it was at least a start. It was many months before he stopped crying but he stayed in the water and as long as he was held was happy.
I am so happy with Aquastyle Swim School and all the staff because they took the time to get to know us and understand him, they asked what we did at home and they brought in visual aids to help him see and understand what was coming up, they tailored the classes for him and eventually he had one on one training with Eloise, this was such a turning point for him, I don’t know if it was because she was older and more experienced, (the other girls while fantastic, are mostly all uni students) but Eloise was like an angel. She made every exercise seem like a game and each time she pushed him a little bit further but never more than she knew he was capable of going.
By October last year he had graduated to putting his head underwater, and I was excited that our trip to Queensland could now finally mean I would be able to have time with both boys in the water. Alas, while he was wonderful in the wading section of the pool he was still terrified of the deep end and try as we might we just could not get him to go into the deep end or even sit on the edge.
Another year started and we could all see him improvements, even though they were often tiny, he was so confident now in the water and to continue encouraging him he was rewarded with a certificate, but still no matter how may times they tried to entice him, he was not jumping off that edge. Last night they tried something different, they removed him from his class and took him to young but oh so good-looking male swimming instructor. They removed his muscles (floaties) at his request and put a belt float around him. The shivers started, the legs locked and I thought this was not going to happen and then they put a bench in the water and he stood on top of that. I could not hear what was said and although holding hands HE JUMPED! HE DID IT, in fact he did it several times over and eventually jumped without hands, and then much to my surprise he graduated to the edge! My superstar, he was a legend and the best thing of all was he was more excited that his mummy watched him do it rather than the jump itself.
It has taken two years to get to this moment and he still can’t swim but he will one day, when he is ready and in his own time.